The minute the orchestra struck up I wanted to dance. As a young child I remember on wet Sunday afternoons watching the black and white Astaire and Rogers films on TV and being blown away by the sheer magic of it all – a magic that has been faithfully retained in the stage production of RKO’s motion picture.
It’s not an easy task to make the transition from screen to stage, but with its elaborate art deco designed sets and fabulously elegant costumes Top Hat unfurls all the glitz, glamour and nostalgia of the 30s.
However, it’s the energetic and stylish big production numbers with their mind blowing choreography such as Top Hat, Cheek to Cheek and Puttin’ on the Ritz that really set this show apart from the rest.
The story itself is predictable and dated – but does it matter? It’s boy meets girl, a chase around the fashionable parts of Europe with a little mistaken identity thrown in. Alan Birkitt and Charlotte Gooch play Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont, the Astaire and Rogers roles. Well matched they blend together beautifully in the song and dance numbers.
There’s some superb character acting from John Conroy as Bates the Butler whilst Clive Hayward as Horace Hardwick, the irate producer and Rebecca Thornhill at Madge, his hardboiled and sardonic wife add some wonderful comic moments to the plot.
Top Hat is a seamless, breathtaking production that keeps its energy levels at full tilt from beginning to end due to its biggest asset – the talented hard working ensemble who sing, dance, double innumerable cameo roles so effortlessly.
If you’re looking for a night of pure vintage escapism and a show that’s guaranteed to have you humming its tunes and tapping your feet long after you’ve left the theatre.
The show runs until Sunday January 11
Review by Liz Coggins